Former senior pastor of the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo, Ohio, Anthony Haynes, was handed a life sentence Thursday, despite pleading with U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to have mercy on him for grooming a teenage girl to have sex with him. Haynes then went on to share her with two other pastors.
“I don’t deserve life. I don’t deserve life,” Haynes contended during his sentencing for grooming the victim, who was 14 at the time, according to the Toledo Blade. “Like I said, I’ve been doing life for 27 months while I’ve been away from my children and this hurts … my need today is for you to have mercy on Anthony Haynes.”
In 2017, Haynes, now 40, was arrested and slammed with federal sex trafficking charges in 2017. The two other pastors, Kenneth Butler, now 39, and the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, now 48, received the same charges.
Court records obtained by ABC 13 said the juvenile girl was sexually assaulted by Butler, Jenkins and Haynes from 2014 to 2017. The victim was reportedly 14 when the assaults began while in Haynes’ custody. A number of the assaults were said to have taken place at the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo.
Haynes also regularly paid the girl money after the sex acts and told her not to say anything about their activities because it would ruin his family and his church.
Court records show Haynes further shared the victim with other men, including Jenkins. Jenkins allegedly sexually exploited the girl at his home on several occasions, as well as at his office at Abundant Life Ministries and at a motel in Toledo. Reports say he paid the girl and recorded some of their activities on his cellphone. He also allegedly exploited another female minor who engaged in commercial sexual activity in March 2017.
Even though he felt sympathy for Haynes’ five children, Judge Friedman pointed out the “disgusting, horrible” things that happened in the case as well as the disgraced pastor’s lack of remorse.
“Society relies on people of trust. … It’s totally violated here and we have to send a message,” Friedman said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman argued that Haynes abused his position as a pseudo-parent and a clergyman to take advantage of the teenager who was a previous victim of sexual assault and said justice was served.
“Ultimately we got the sentence that I thought justice required. And so no matter how we get there, he’s going to be off the streets forever and the victim was heard and the sentence reflects that,” Freeman said, according to WTOL.
The victim, who is now older, also felt relieved by the sentence, Freeman added.
“She is relieved, to be honest. This is kind of an end of a chapter, a horrific chapter for her, now she can move on. She’s still in school, college getting her social work degree. She is working and so she was emotional to a degree but she is happy and relieved that her words were heard,” Freeman added.
The victim said she was afraid to say anything for three years as she was exploited because she thought no one would believe her due to Haynes’ position as a pastor.
“I just let it happen,” she said.
Haynes’ family members also argued that his sentence was not proportional to similar crimes.
His brother called the judicial system “f—– up” in an interview with ABC 13 and pointed out that the victim had been openly having sex with other men while taking money from them.